If you are a beginning carpenter or a seasoned carpenter, you will need a miter saw as they are one of the most versatile tools on the marker. With a good miter saw will be able to smoothly execute a ninety degree angled cut or crosscut. You may have heard it referred to as a “chop saw” or “drop saw”. It looks just like a circular saw but is mounted onto a board or metal base for quick action, and are the perfect choice for a wide range of jobs from cutting window trim to ripping two by fours. These saws are available in a few variations including the basic miter box and saw, dual compound miter saw, compound miter, Laser sliding dual compound miter saw and sliding compound miter. Most of these saws are made from aluminum or steel, however, the handle and blade guard can be made from a special type of heavy duty plastic. More commonly you’ll find plastic incorporated in lower priced models. But regardless of the types of materials used, all miters are designed to withstand heavy use.
Top Miter Saws Comparison Chart
|Bosch Glide Miter Saw||120v||Sliding||12 inches||$$$$$|
|Dewalt Compound Miter Saw ||120v||Compound||12 inches||$$$|
|Hitachi Sliding Compound Miter Saw||120v||Sliding Compound||12 inches||$$$$|
Bosch GCM12SD DB Glide Miter Saw:
What can we saw about a saw that’s so unique and versatile? Yes, it comes with a higher price tag, but the saw’s cutting flexibility makes it worth every penny. It’s also the perfect buy if you’re short on space or have a wide variety of projects to complete around the home.
DEWALT DW715 Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw:
The dw715 is a lightweight miter saw that weighs about thirty pounds less than the average model. While lighter than average it still packs some serious power, which makes it a great choice if you’re looking for an affordable miter that can handle a variety of jobs around the home. It’s also packed with features that make it perfect for beginners or seasoned DIYers.
Hitachi C12RSH2 Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw:
This is a saw that’s got it all. This saw allows you to handle a wide range of cuts with ease and comes equipped with all the bells and whistles you could ever want on a compound miter. The price may be a little steep for some, but the innovative design and high quality materials used tell us this is a miter saw that was built to last.
Miter Saw Buying Guide
Basic Miter: The basic miter can be adjusted to make angled cuts. This style of miter is perfect for jobs that require simple ninety-degree cuts. Some models feature stops on the miter index. These stops are listings of angles found on the saw’s base and they can be used to speed up the cutting process because this feature allows you to adjust the saw to the most common cutting angles used. The amount of cuts on a miter index will vary from model to model.
Compound Miter: This type of miter saw can adjust for bevel or angled cuts. Generally, these saws can only make a bevel cut in one direction: right or left. However, there are some models available that allow the saw to pivot in both directions, which provides much-needed flexibility.
Sliding Compound: This type of miter saw is by far the most versatile one you’ll find. The blade and motor assembly are placed on a movable arm that allows you to slice through longer pieces of lumber with ease. Some types of sliding compound miter saws feature blades that are only able to pivot in a single direction, just like the basic miter, but higher end models allow the blade to be tilted to the left or the right.
Cordless: Cordless models will offer plenty of convenience when you’re on the job site because they’re highly portable, so you won’t need to stick close to a power outlet or use an extension cord. Cordless miter saws typically run on eighteen or twenty-four volts. A big drawback to this type of miter is the downtime you’ll run into for recharging which can make your work day even longer. In order to maximize the run time, search for a cordless miter that features a rapid recharging system or replaceable batteries. If you have a stationary work area, then we recommend a corded model, which can offer more power and consistency.
The most advanced models of miters will not only be able to make fancy compound cuts, but their blade and motor housing will expand to increase cut length. A miter with this type of capability is favored by the pros.
Miters often come in a couple of popular sizes: ten and twelve inches. Models with twelve-inch blades are mainly used by the pros who handle plenty of large lumber routinely. But many pros also opt for the ten-inch models, which can handle about ninety-five percent of the tasks that the twelve inch can, and they’re also a more affordable option.
Features to Look For
A good miter saw will come with bevel and miter scales that are aligned properly and easy to read. This helps to improve cutting accuracy. The most precise scales will be marked in fractions of a degree.
Detents, or solid angle presets, are locking catches that mark commonly used miter and bevel angles, allowing you to set the saw for the type of cuts you use the most. We recommend choosing a saw that comes with a minimum of five detents, in addition to a detent override that will allow you to choose custom angles.
The miter you choose should also come with an adjustable fence, which will provide more support when you’re slicing through larger stock. The best fences will stand at four inches and will be perpendicular to the table. Fences with sections that swing or slide out of the way are a must when making bevel cuts.
For sliding compound saws, the rails should be able to easily glide as the saw is pushed through lumber. Typically, the sliding motion will be rougher at first but will loosen up the more the saw is used.
Blade guards work to protect the user from the blade. The user should be able to move the guard out of the way in order to get a better view.
These days, many miter saws come equipped with a laser guide that’s designed to help the user to visualize the path of the blade before a cut is made. But many people feel that these laser guides are not very accurate, especially in bright sunlight when it’s almost impossible to see them.
If you’re searching for a saw with a good dust collection system, you won’t have much luck in this area. Many pros can agree that these dust collection systems are pretty useless and downright ineffective.
Built-in safety switches located on the handle are meant to prevent the saw from accidentally starting up. It’s a great feature to have and a must for beginners.
When you execute a cut at a ninety-degree angle it’s referred to as a crosscut. Normally, this type of cut is done whenever you need to cut something down to the correct length.
Every type of miter saw can execute a basic miter cut. This type of cut is often used for trims and frames.
You won’t be able to do bevel cuts with a basic miter saw. With a bevel cut, the saw blade needs to be rotated along its horizontal axis. This type of cut refers to the tilt of the blade from the vertical on the saw table. With a basic miter, the blade is aligned perpendicular to the ground or table. With a compound miter, you’ll be able to pivot the blade assembly to make bevel cuts. This type of cut is useful for creating bevel joints, crown molding, wooden shelves, and photo frames.
A compound cut allows you to execute a bevel and miter cut in a single cut. If you set the miter and bevel angle to zero then you’ll basically end up with a crosscut. With a compound cut, you’ll be cutting at angles to both thickness and width at the same time. This type of cut is often used for certain types of cabinet attachments, door frames or crown molding. This cut is incredibly difficult to perform using a basic miter.
Now that you’re familiar with the types of cuts you can make with a miter saw you’ll have a better idea of the type of saw you need for upcoming projects.
Miter Saw Buying Tips
Before you buy a miter saw also consider purchasing a saw stand that you can use when cutting longer lumber. Stands make it a lot easier to quickly slice through lumber and can help to improve cutting accuracy. Many pros believe that a stand is probably one of the best accessories you can buy. For many years, out in the field construction workers found themselves having to put together their own benches for this purpose, in order to have a platform that was stable enough to help manage longer lumber. Today, you can purchase a folding miter stand that’s designed to work with pretty much any type of miter. These stands are stable, heavy-duty and feature telescoping supports at each end that will allow the user to cut long large pieces of lumber easily.
Blade size is another important point to consider. The size of the blades usually ranges from eight to twelve inches. A bigger blade will allow you to make longer cuts. The blade is what determines the height or depth of a cut. There are a variety of blades you can use when you’re cutting different types of materials. Some blades are even designed for multi-purpose use and can handle a wider variety of materials. Blades with more teeth will provide a finer cut. Often, new saws will come with a mid-range blade that’s designed for wood cutting only, so an upgrade may be necessary if you have plenty of work around the home to get done.
An electric brake is another must have safety feature. The brake works to slow the blade down quickly. When the saw’s arm is lifted after a cut is made, a blade that doesn’t have a brake will take quite a bit longer to lose its momentum. This can potentially lead to injury or mistakes in your work. A brake will reduce the risk of accidents and injuries and will basically make the saw much easier and safer to use.
Handle comfort isn’t really at the top of the list when it comes to the features you should look for when buying a new miter, but the wrong type of handle can have a big impact on how comfortable or uncomfortable a saw is to use. This is especially true if you’re a pro and have to use the saw for several hours at a stretch. The handle designs vary greatly by manufacturer and model. The best type of handle should be able to absorb a large amount of vibration and should be easy to hold.
The saw’s motor will vary from ten to fifteen amps. A powerful motor isn’t always a must because these saws are usually efficient by default. A larger miter will usually have a more powerful motor compared to a smaller, compact saw, so try not to be fooled by the numbers on a spec sheet. However, if you need a miter for your job, you should opt for the highest level of power available.
Miter Saw Guide Conclusion
There are many different makes and models of miter saws to choose from, so it’s important that you do a little research to find the right style that will best suit your needs. Try not to let popularity or pricing be the main determining factors when it comes time to choose a model that can fit your cutting needs. The best miter saw will be powerful, durable, and versatile enough that it will be an asset on the job site or around the home.
The Bosch glide miter saw features an interesting take on the traditional sliding miter saw design. It has a reputation for versatility, and the ability to save you about twelve inches of workspace, thanks to its innovative design. It comes as no surprise that this model is our top rated product, despite the higher price tag. The saw’s space saving design also allows you to execute cuts with minimal rear clearance, which is a huge selling point for anyone who works in a cramped garage or workshop. Read my detail review here.
The Dewalt single bevel compound miter saw offers a lot of versatility and cutting accuracy in such a compact package. The saw’s lighter weight makes it easy to use for a longer period of time, while the powerful motor allows you to easily slice through materials and execute a number of cuts. Check out the review all the details about it here.
The Hitachi C12RSH2 dual bevel sliding compound miter saw is a beast. This powerhouse is easy to handle, cuts with precision and comes loaded with a ton of features that will make cutting crown molding a breeze. It’s also very versatile and can be a great choice if you’re in need of a larger miter saw, but you’re short on space. Check out all the features here on it before you but it.